tv [untitled] March 21, 2012 3:30pm-4:00pm PDT
delicatessen forever. i took these jobs that these old guys would not apply for me, and i made it into a stand-up routine for myself. there were two big clubs in new york. i will go on stage, deliver the jokes, and maybe a manager or agent, the kind of people who used to hang out there, would like my material and give me a job. this is where richard pryor started and lily tomlin and others. the first date -- the first week of was working there, i met a guy who is also starting up. his name was billy crystal. he lived about 3 tons over from where my parents live. he had a little blue volkswagen, used to pick me up every night. drive into the city. we would get on stage, do our jobs. he would drive me home. we would critique each other's jokes and our acts. i am about four months into this nightmare, this experiment of mine. one night at about 1:00 a.m.,
having the hardest time in the world making these four drunks from des moines laugh. i get off the state and -- i get off the stage and go to the board videos awaiting for billy. a man sits next to me and starts staring at me. staring at me. i finally go, what, what do you want? he goes, you know, you are the worst the media i have ever seen in my life. i said, thank you, i really need to hear this right now. thank you very much. he said, but your material is good. do you write it? i said, yes. he said, can i see more of it? i said, you bet. i even asked his name. ends up this is lorne michael, and he is going to the clubs in new york looking for writers for this new show called "saturday night live" that was going to premiere in the fall. i go home to long island and a
type of what i believe for a 1100 of my best jokes. two days later, i have to go back to the city for my meeting with lorne. i was so nervous. what should i wear? well, hip new show. i will dress hip. i put on my father's marroon polyester leisure suit. i looked like a big blood clot. i went to the city. he was staying at the plaza mattel. my meeting was like at 2:00 p.m. i do not want to be late. i was really nervous. i got there like at 7:00 a.m. in the morning. i see a pay phone, 1975, no cell phone. i went to the pay phone and call billy crystal. he had been talking to lorne about the possibility of being on this new show. i said, do you have any hints
you can give me so i can have a leg up in this meeting? he said, well, he used to write for woody allen. he used to produce monty python specials. oh, and he hates mimes. lorne hates mimes. the bulls up a chair and give him this poem with 1100 jokes in it. he opens it. he reads the first joke. egos, u -- he goes, uh-huh, good. then he closes the book. i wrote 1100 jobs over two days, and he reads one joke. i wrote a jokes and the post office was about to issue a stamp commemorating prostitution in the united states. 10 cents, but if you want to lick it, it is a quarter. [laughter]
he said, good. good. he said, tell me, how much money do you need to live on? i said, well, i am making $2.75 an hour at the deli. match it. [laughter] he said, well, tell me a little bit more about yourself. acted it to mean before he committed this kind of cash, he wanted to see what he was buying. i said, with the allen is my idol. i love monty python. but if there is one mime on the show, i am out of here, and he gave me a job. [laughter] that was my great. ultimately, hear i am, having written a novel with my childhood hero dave barry.
[applause] >> dave barry and alan zweibel, they' not here all week, folks. we're going to take questions from the audience. we have written questions. this book "lunatics," how did you decide to write this book together? >> we were both -- we met in washington, d.c., when a steve martin -- in 2005 or to adults and six, he won the mark twain award -- it thousand five or 2006. there was a big show. i was one of the presenters. alan was a waiter. no. [laughter] no, alan was a writer. >> i helped larry david wright
his speech. >> when we were far away from larry david, he says he wrote his speech. anyway, we like each other. we became friends and saw each other off and on over the next few years at conferences and stuff like that. alan kept saying -- >> we should do something together. >> i did not know what he meant. [laughter] he was very vague. he is kind of in the film-tv world, and people always say they want to do something. i said, ok, let's do something together. but i do not think we would. then he had this idea. >> his daughter played soccer. she was 11 years old. i had three children, all of whom spate -- played sports, little league, whatever. but he was 1,600 miles away from me. i was in new jersey.
he was in florida. i can give you his home number later if you wish. [laughter] i said, listen, why don't we make it work for us? we came up with a situation where there is a championship game, girls 12 and under. the revf calls a 10-year-old girl of side when she gets what would be the winning goal in the championship game. her father goes ballistic. let's have a feud between the referee and the father. i will be the referee. you'll be the voice of the father. and we will alternate chapters. that is exactly what we did. my guy is the referee, fill up. i wrote the first chapter. i sent it to dave, having no idea what he was going to send back to me. his guy is a lot like him. very sweet, wonderful man. really, alan is a gentle soul
with a huge head. [laughter] tell them what york guy does for a living. >> he owned a pet store. called the wine shop. he needed money to open it a few years ago. he asked the landlords whose last name was wine. they said we will give you money if you use our name in the store. people would go to the start thinking they could get merlot, burgundy, or whatever. they were surprised to see the animals. >> my guy's name is jeffrey peckerman, and terrible human being. homophobic, coward. nothing like me. a lot of work in this character. he is the father of the girl
that this character calls offsides on. they have a conversation. this guy think it is nothing. they do not like each other. but they do not expect to see each other ever again. the next day, guy is driving home from his job. he is a forensic plummer. [laughter] which is a real job. if a crime is committed involving, let's say, a toilet -- [laughter] you would call a forensic plumber who would testify. the victim's with his head in the bowl to not have reached the lever, so i cannot have been a suicide. [laughter] google id. i am telling you, folks. anyway, he is coming home from his job as a forensic plumber,
and his wife tells him he needs to pick up some wine for her women's book club. so he sees the wine shop. so they come back together. that sets out this chain of events. they hate each other. but i keep getting pushed together randomly. within a matter of days, without intending to, they have hijacked a clothing-optional cruise ship. [laughter] >> it gets a little weird starting their. >> that is very early in the plot. from there, this is the story of two guys who do not want to be together, all they want to do is go home, but things keep happening to them. they become international terrorists, and the end up going all over the world. >> they bring democracy to cuba. [laughter] they delivered two million
bananas to the starving folks in somalia. they go from being perceived as terrorists into being great liberators. >> but they never know. they have no idea that any of this is happening all the way through. that is sort of how we got going. a lot of times when people write books, novels, and i do not want to get to inside baseball, but they have what is called a plot. [laughter] we did not really have that. [laughter] it was improvisational novel writing or neither one of his new with the other was going to send. there really was you could never change it. you had to go with it. our motive was almost entirely revenge. oh, ok, i see what you give me here, mr. funny man. you get this. >> that was like having a deranged pen pal.
ted kosinski was writing to me, ok. i would see this chapter. i would have no knowledge whatsoever how he would have reacted to what i had just sent him a few days before. our only goal was to react and to advance the "plot." i would read it, and i would go, oh, man, what am i going to do with this? about a day later i would go, all right, all right, i will show him. i would write something. generally, it got to a point in my chapter -- the chapter was only about three or four pages long. we wanted to keep going back and forth. i would get to a point where i do not know how to get them out of this situation. let him to figure it out. like i said, revenge. >> the weird part for me is i am used to you finish it before you
show it to anybody. this is mr. collaborative medium person. he writes like the first sentence, which is, what a wonderful day, and he sent it to billy crystal. he says to me, billy loves the first sentence. >> i was just taking the temperature of how this was going. he liked the first sentence. ok, i will write another sentence. >> we rode three or four chapters. we do not know if it was anything. the people i am sending it to really love it. loves what? we have no book yet. that is the way he thinks. >> but it worked out. we already had a movie deal with steve carrell attached to play my character. it sort of worked. >> apparently. >> you're listening to the
commonwealth club. [laughter] you are listening to the commonwealth club of california radio program. we have dave barry and alan zweibel peter i am along for the ride. you answered about 10 questions that people have submitted. about the movie, i picture steve carrell as one of the characters. reading it, i was alternating for that character. any idea who willpeckerman? who would you like to? >> brad pitt. >> i knew that was your answer. [laughter] >> thank god it is radio. >> alan is the film guy. >> i just hope this does better than the last time i had a book that was going to be a movie.
i am not sure i want to be connected with it an alan zweibel film. a number of years ago, our son adam was about seven years old. he was at that age where at the dinner table, he would look across at me and my wife, and just an expression on his face, you could tell what he was thinking. like, i could do better than these two, you know? so i wrote this little novella, a fable about a 9-year-old boy who declared himself a free agent from his parents. he went all over the world offering his services as a son to the highest bidding mothers and fathers. it did ok. i send it to rob reiner for a blurb. he called me and said i am and
director now. he did "stand by me," "when harry met sally," and others. the greatest thing you want to year, he said let's make this into a movie. it was the greatest time of my life. and i wrote a screenplay. bruce willis, elijah wood, dan ackroyd. $50 million movie. it was this a big to-do with the big premiere in hollywood. i flew my parents out from florida. it was the greatest night of my life. then the next morning, the reviews came out. i do not know how many of you remember roger ebert's review of "north" or carry it with you in your wallet --
[laughter] >> to keep you humble. " but to refresh your memory -- i hated this movie. hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. hated it. hated every audience-insultingh moment-ated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. hated the implied insult to the audience by its believe that anyone would actually be entertained by it. now, -- [laughter] on the surface -- [laughter] this may seem like an unfavorable review. but if you read between the lines, i think he sort of like it. i just love this one goes a little bit better. that is all. >> although it is hollywood. we had these conversations with the people that have bought the
rights. they buy a book, and and then they tell you all the things they hate about it and that you need to change it. we're in preliminary talks, and it appears it will be a story about a course in world war -- horse in world war i. [laughter] >> there are questions about the heyday of "saturday night live." do you think it is funny today? do you watch it still? >> back in the days that i was there, it was really exciting. we were all 22, 23 years old. it was our first time in tv. the only rule that lorne had for us was to make each other laugh. it was so much fun. it was live. so vital and vibrant.
today i write novels and plays. it i am maliki, it comes out two years from now -- if i am lucky, it comes at two years from now. then i would write something monday, it was on television on saturday. i could write something saturday and it would be on tv that night. it was immediate. we would have rehearsal at 7:30 p.m. on saturday night. the rehearsal audience would come to the studio. between dress and air, we rewrites everything and then another audience comes in for the live show. i would go upstairs between the show's end of something on the news struck me as funny, i would write it and put it on "weekend update." it would be on half an hour later. two times, i was under the update desk, handing out jokes
that i had written for them. [laughter] it was just so immediate. as far as what i think of it today, i think it is really good. i think seth myers and kristin wiig and fred armisten could have been on it in any era. i think every time you think it is over, you know, john lovitz comes along, tina fey comes along. >> another question. if your hair could speak, what would it say? >> it would say, dave, this is over. >> i get a lot of crap for my hair. i mean, not as much as alan gets
for his head. i do not know what to do. this is the way it is. people have tried, really strong, powerful hairdresser's. [laughter] they could do something for a few minutes. this is why i could never be an airline pilot. if you got in an airplane and saw somebody with my hair cut, you get right off the airplane. [laughter] >> also, you have to learn how to fly. >> nobody checks that. they see the hair cut. >> you're leaving out the day that mo howard saw your head. i am going to wear my hair like that, too. >> do you agree with the "new york times" that david is the funniest man in america? >> yes, do you? [laughter] >> they said that? >> apparently. >> there was one reviewer in
1981, and i have had to live -- who would even say that? i was once on a book tour in england, and they do not think we are funny, the brits. they think they're funny and we're not. so in england, basically you go to a bbc building and sit in a little studio across from a guy who is way better educated than you, smarter than you, and has the british accent. he asks you questions, and you get up and drive around for about an hour. you get back to what appears to be the same studio with a different guy who is a very smart. every single one of them would start by saying, our next guest has been described as the funniest man in america. [laughter] you know, we will see about that. i have always hated that quote.
what do you think, alan, is it true? >> oh, yeah. >> the funniest man on this side of the stage. somebody wants to know, what are your limits? pushing the boundaries. some of the things in the book pushed the boundaries a little bit. >> my character is a horrible bang human being. he speaks -- my character is a horrible human being. he speaks profanely. he has no sensibility. when you write that, we think that people will get that this guy is a joke. we hope that. >> my character is a good citizen. he plays by the rules. when i created the character and send it to dave, it was only natural for him to send back somebody who was the polar
opposite. his character, there is a consistency to it. he is very committed to view this guy is. if anyone thinks there's too much profanity, that is to the character is. i made sure that my character had some, oh, human traits. >> he falls in love with a naked nun. >> it was a moment of weakness, and he felt badly about it. >> and he did not know she was a nun. >> because she was naked. >> it was a trick. they are known for that. [laughter] >> dave, would you share the story of the oscar meyer wagon interception with your child? >> i have a theory of parenting which is that your function as a parent is to embarrass your children. i embrace that. that is your job, to be embarrassing to your children,
just as your parents were embarrassing to you. i was at the miami herald and i got a call from the oscar meyer wiener company, talking about bringing the wienermobile to miami. there are six of them. a lot of people do not know that. [laughter] this nation leads the world in wienermobile technology. although, iran is a developing more. [laughter] not for long. so they called me up and say we're bringing the wienermobile to miami, would you like to drive it for a day? i said heck yes. i knew exactly what i wanted to do. i wanted to pick my son of that middle school. [laughter]
there he is in peer pressure hell. i will never forget. there are all these mothers in minivans. and behind it is this looming hot dog, and i am saying, rob berrryy, come to the wienermobile. you scar their child psychologically for life. yes, but it was worth it. [laughter] >> politicians, often an easy mark for humor. who among the republican crop of candidates do you find the best targets, and what is it about politicians that makes them so funny? >> where do you start? herman cain, i was so sad when he dropped out. he was getting funnier by the second.
newt gingrich is pretty funny. they are all pretty funny. mitt romney, every now and then, conveys a human expression. you know? [laughter] then his staff has to jump on him. they're all pretty funny. i think it is that, if you think about the qualities required to run for president of the united states, you have to be completely insane or an enormous jerk or some combination of the two. or you never go through what you have to go through to get that job. i would love for there to be a candidate would be honest. who would just say, you know what, i really just want the plane. it would be so cool to have that plane. i think that in the end, that is what they wanted a that is just me. that is what i would want. >> how is writing by yourself compared to collaborating? alan, you have probably done a
lot of collaborating. >> man, my whole career. add "snl," gilda was my collaborator. i did the geary shandling show. he was my collaborator. the lord is my creator. he was my collaborator. billy crystal. it goes on and on. when i write to by myself -- >> you discover you have no talent. [laughter] >> there is nothing there anymore. it is fun raising by yourself, because i can flex muscles i did not have before, but it is very lonely. it is not natural to sit in a room by yourself and be funny. i look forward to collaboration, just as a way to get away from salatin. hence, hello. >> is it easier to have somebody to bounce things off of? >> of course, there is a synergy
to it. there's a built-in editing process. somebody waiting to react to it. absolutely. >> dave, most of your career, you wrote the peter pan books with ridley. how do you like working with others? >> i love it. i enjoy it but you can bounce it off. when riding alone, what goes through -- when you are writing alone, you sit and think you are a fraud. anyone who writes comedy knows that feeling peter i am not funny. i do not have skills. i used of all the jokes. that is kind of how you start your day. sometimes that is how you end your day. >> sometimes that is the entire day. [laughter] >> you look at the window of people going to work in have